Today the US Supreme Court dropped a massive bombshell. Basically, it flung the United States several furlongs ahead in becoming a corporate-run state. If there was any upside to this ruling, it's that political bribery is now legal and out in the open. Basically, the logic goes like this: -- The constitution guarantees free speech -- Money (donations to a political candidate) is a form of speech and therefore must be not be unduly regulated -- Corporations are "legal persons" (with rights of humans, but limited liability; see SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) decisions dating back to the 1800's declaring corporations to be "juristic persons" with many constitutional rights, except to marry or vote). -- Therefore, the First Amendment right to free speech invalidates restrictions on corporate contributions to political candidates and parties. Here are brief excerpts from the New York Times summary: WASHINGTON Sweeping aside a century-old understanding and overruling two important precedents, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. The ruling was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendments most basic free speech principle that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace will corrupt democracy. The 5-to-4 decision was a doctrinal earthquake but also a political and practical one. If the First Amendment has any force, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, which included the four members of its conservative wing, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech. Justice John Paul Stevens read a long dissent from the bench. He said the majority had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings. His decision was joined by the other three members of the courts liberal wing. As one commenter noted, this may be the most naked act of judicial activism in our nation's history. The parties in this case didn't even raise the larger issue of whether corporate spending could be constrained at all, but SCOTUS went to the extraordinary length of holding hearings on this case twice in order to open up broader issues than the plaintiffs sought. To reach the conclusion it did today, SCOTUS had to overturn almost 100 years of their own precedent, including a definitive case on similar facts 20 years ago that had recently been affirmed. Even the Court's most conservative judges in the past have seen the logic in limiting bald bribery -- but not the newest conservative activist judges of the Roberts court. Can Brits picture MPs wearing Vodafone, HSBC and BP patches on their suit jackets, advertising their allegiance to their largest sponsors? Well, this is what we just got in the US.